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Guinea: Deal with the Devil – Political Parties Sign Agreement with Same Election Cops Who Brutalized Opposition in 2010 Presidential Election

September 16, 2013
NOTE:  FOSSEL should be operating in full force for the Sept. 19 opposition demonstration given that they are activated for before, during and after the election.
On September 11, 2013, political parties signed a memorandum of understanding with FOSSEL (article is last document below), an election force comprised of gendarmes and police charged with the overall security of the 2013 election and maintaining order.  But, this is no MOU.  It is an edict from the government to political parties to let them know that the FOSSEPE will be everywhere to secure the vote and protect the public.  Sounds reasonable, right?  Yet, the devil is in the details. Here is a excerpt from the “agreement” which demonstrates that FOSSEL’s role is pervasive and murky.  
 
. . . the Fossel is responsible for ensuring the safety of places of meetings and public events, polls, candidates, branches of CENI, leaders of political parties, national and international observers, the private and public media and electoral materials impartially.
 
This provides carte blanche for FOSSEL to be anywhere it wants, including political party meetings and presumably those of the private and public media.  The FOSSEL is made up of both gendarmes and police forces as was the FOSSEPEL used during the 2010 election. FOSSEPEL leveled brutal attacks against the opposition, primarily Peul supporters, throughout the presidential election.  Please see excerpts from Human Rights Watch press releases (further below), which span from November 5 -29, 2010 about FOSSEPEL’s brutal abuses and targeting of Peuls.
 
 
And the guy running the FOSSEL show for the 2013 elections? That would be Gen. Ibrahima Balde, who also led the 2010 FOSSEPEL.  Read the ominous warning he issued to the opposition just before the announcement of the 2010 presidential election results: 
The general leading Guinea’s election security forces on Wednesday urged candidates to accept the outcome of Sunday’s presidential run-off, as authorities issued a fresh batch of results.

“The leaders must understand they have a responsibility to accept the results, for the loser to accept defeat graciously,” General Ibrahim Balde, head of the national guard and electoral security forces, told Reuters.

“If they do not, I do not want to say what will happen. No one wishes it,” he said.
 

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH PRESS RELEASES ABOUT GUINEA SPECIAL ELECTION POLICE, FOSSEPEL, BRUTAL VIOLENCE IN 2010 ELECTION 

  • November 5, 2010
    Press release
    EXCERPT

    “However, FOSSEPEL officials’ response to political violence in late October in Conakry, the capital, was characterized by excessive force, lack of discipline, criminality, and ethnic partisanship.

    “The chances for violence during, and particularly after, this election are very real,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Guinean security services must do all they can to protect all Guineans and ensure that the electorate is able to cast their votes free of fear.”

    General Ibrahim Baldé, the head of the National Gendarmerie, commands the special unit. In July, Baldé signed a much-needed Use of Force Policy, under which Guinean security forces are required to adhere to internationally recognized best practices for responding to violence, including minimum use of force.

    During the October clashes, Human Rights Watch received numerous credible reports of misconduct by policemen and gendarmes serving with FOSSEPEL, including beatings and assaults on party supporters. In some cases, the victims were even chased into their homes and workplaces. Based on the reports, some members of the security unit used the unrest as a pretext to loot shops and commit criminal acts, including theft of mobile phones, money, and other goods.

    Each of the two candidates for the run-off election is from one of the country’s two largest ethnic groups, and members of each group largely support the candidate from their own group. Cellou Dalein Diallo, of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (Union des forces démocratiques de Guinée, UFDG), is a Peuhl; and Alpha Condé, Rally of the Guinean People Party (Rassemblement du peuple de Guinée, RPG), is a Malinké. Very few Peuhls are members of the security services, though.

    Witnesses described how some FOSSEPEL officers targeted individuals for abuse and theft on the basis of their ethnicity, using racially motivated threats and warning them not to vote for a particular party. Scores of protesters were also arbitrarily detained in gendarme camps and denied access to legal representation.

    After the unrest in October, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported that at least one person had been killed and 62 injured by the security forces in what it determined was excessive use of force. Members of FOSSEPEL have been implicated in many of the recorded incidents. During some incidents, demonstrators erected roadblocks, burned tires, and threw stones, wounding some members of the security forces.

    Instead of initiating investigations into allegations of abuse, FOSSEPEL officials appear to have distanced themselves from responsibility, Human Rights Watch said. Local news sources have reported that senior members of the security forces, including Baldé himself, said the alleged abuses were committed by “uncontrolled elements” within the police, gendarmes, and army.

    Political and ethnic tension has been steadily rising in Guinea since September. The body charged with overseeing the election has only recently resolved a leadership crisis, while Guineans have waited through three postponements for the presidential election’s second round. A suspected poisoning of dozens of supporters of the Guinean People Party during a meeting in Conakry spurred ethnically motivated attacks against members of the Peuhl ethnicity in at least four towns. The violence displaced about several thousands of people, mostly from the eastern towns of Siguiri, Kouroussa, and Kissidougou.”

  • November 24, 2010
    Press release
    EXCERPT

    Inter-communal Violence and Detentions
    On November 15, 2010, the day the electoral commission declared Alpha Condé the winner of the presidential election, communal violence broke out between his largely Malinké and Susu supporters and the largely Peuhl supporters of his rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo. Some 125 people, including 26 boys, were among those arrested, charged, and transferred to Conakry’s central prison.

    While numerous witnesses described supporters of both parties engaging in widespread acts of aggression, prison records seen by Human Rights Watch indicate that the detained men and boys are overwhelmingly Peuhl. The numbers suggest a disproportionate and ethnically motivated response to the violence by security forces, very few of whom are Peuhl. Human Rights Watch was unable to ascertain how many of those arrested were detained on the basis of credible allegations of criminal acts, or whether they were arbitrarily detained on the basis of their ethnicity.

    Witnesses in Conakry told Human Rights Watch that security forces had severely mistreated many of the men and boys both during and after their arrests, which in several cases occurred at their homes. Human Rights Watch urged government leaders to ensure that members of the security forces suspected of unlawful violence against the detainees are investigated and prosecuted in accordance with international fair trial standards.
    HRW:  New President Needs to Rein in Security Personnel, Ensure Political Neutrality
    November 29, 2010 
    EXCERPT
The grim accounts regarding how security forces acted and the rising inter-communal violence show just how challenging the new president’s job will be. To end Guinea’s long history of violence, the incoming government will need to rein in and ensure the neutrality of the security forces, and urgently address the causes of lingering ethnic tensions.
Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch

(Dakar) – Security forces in Guinea used excessive force and displayed a lack of political neutrality when responding to election-related violence, Human Rights Watch said today. The violence, between supporters of presidential candidates Alpha Condé and Cellou Dalein Diallo, and between protesters and security services, took place in Conakry, the capital, and other cities between November 15 and 19, 2010. At least seven people died, and 220 were wounded.

Human Rights Watch conducted interviews in Guinea with over 80 victims and witnesses. The interviews confirmed that the security forces, dominated by ethnic groups that largely supported Condé’s party, used lethal force to suppress violence by members of the Peuhl ethnic group, who were protesting electoral irregularities against Diallo, their candidate. Guinea’s Supreme Court is expected to announce this week the final results of the contested, second-round election, which, despite some irregularities, was considered by international observers to be the freest in Guinea in 50 years. On November 15, election officials declared Condé the winner of the November 7 run-off election.

“The grim accounts regarding how security forces acted and the rising inter-communal violence show just how challenging the new president’s job will be,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “To end Guinea’s long history of violence, the incoming government will need to rein in and ensure the neutrality of the security forces, and urgently address the causes of lingering ethnic tensions.”

The Human Rights Watch investigation in Guinea showed that members of the security forces used ethnic slurs against members of the Peuhl ethnic group, collaborated with civilian mobs from ethnic groups that largely supported Condé, and in several cases looted and stole property from people who were perceived to have supported Diallo. Although the security forces may have sought to quell the violence that seized the cities of Conakry, Dalaba, and Labé, they failed to provide equal protection to all Guineans, Human Rights Watch said.

Behaving more as predators than protectors, security force members in Guinea have for decades been allowed to get away with abuses including extortion, banditry, theft, kidnapping, racketeering, and excessive use of lethal force, with no apparent fear of being held accountable. Successive authoritarian heads of state have used the security services for partisan ends to repress political opponents, influence the outcome of elections, and intimidate the judiciary.

13.09.2013 9:54 p.m.

The political parties involved in the organization of elections signed Wednesday, September 11 a memorandum of understanding with the special security force legislative elections (Fossel), and in the presence of Major General, Ibrahima Balde, Top Commander of the Force, Director of Military Justice, Commander Fossel.

Indeed, it is mentioned in the MoU that “Fossel mission is to maintain peace, the security and freedom of movement, protection of persons and property on
the territory National before, during and after the general elections of 2013. “

Understood that Fossel is committed to fulfill its mission without interfering in political and administrative local government affairs, nor to question the traditional role assigned to the security forces and defense.

Furthermore, Fossel is committed to improving collaboration with political parties, and further understood that political parties claim to have an internal security organization in the context of elections, political parties understood that engaged in the electoral process are bound by the provisions of the Electoral Code and the Code of Conduct for political parties, and at the same time, the parties undertake to improve collaboration with Fossel.

From the foregoing, the Fossel is responsible for ensuring the safety of places of meetings and public events, polls, candidates, branches of CENI, leaders of political parties, national and international observers, the private and public media and electoral materials and it impartially.

Then in the MOU it is also said that political parties are required to apply the rules of internal security for all activities relating to elections including their seats, places of meetings and procession routes.

And political parties are also responsible to educate their leaders and activists on the need to observe discipline and safety rules before, during and after the announcement of the results until the installation of the National Assembly.

Speaking, General Ibrahima Balde division above all thanked political parties while stating that this signature is a success for the simple reason of having put in place for the first time a legal framework and adaptable to different security realities in conjunction with the legislative elections, the holding is 24 September.

A report on the 31 political parties contesting only 17 responded to the call. And recognizing this fact, General Ibrahima Balde Division recommends that Fossel services in connection with all other political parties, trying to go through all the ways and means for all the other parties to the absent meeting may sign this Protocol.

Balla Yombouno

Tel: 664 745 365

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